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Food experts warn over fertiliser shortage

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Food experts warn over fertiliser shortage

Tractors till a farm
Tractors till a farm at Chepkanga in Uasin Gishu County in readiness for the maize planting season, starting last week. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Planting Kenya’s staple food crop, maize, without fertiliser is a recipe for hunger, agriculture experts have warned.

This, even as the Treasury and the Ministry of Agriculture trade accusations on procurement of crucial farm inputs.

Food experts are warning of a decline in maize yields next season after some farmers started planting without applying the subsidised nutrient. The farmers said business people took advantage of the absence of cheap government fertiliser in the market to increase prices.

“We are staring at a looming disaster since most farmers have embarked on maize planting without fertiliser. Some of them have been forced to reduce the acreage under maize due to lack of capital,” said Mr Ezekiel Kosgei, an Eldoret-based private land economist.

Grain farmers have blamed the government over failure to resolve legal procedures after the Attorney General objected to the Agriculture Ministry importing fertiliser through flawed procurement processes involving the firms offered the contract.

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“We fail to understand why the government is always trapped in this vicious cycle of uncoordinated availability of subsidised fertiliser every planting season,” said Mr Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director.

According to the Director of crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Johnstone Irungu, maize production increased from 37 million bags to 40.9 million bags last season. He attributed the rise to availability of subsidised fertiliser, favourable weather during planting and control of disease outbreaks.

But grain farmers have been thrown into confusion after the Ministry of Agriculture said that a decision was yet to be made on whether to purchase the cheap fertiliser as the planting season commences in most parts of the region.

The government put on hold importation of 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser over irregularities in tendering. Agro-dealers have taken advantage of the decision to import the fertiliser and make huge profits due to increased demand by farmers.

Although fertiliser prices are determined by market forces, a bag of DAP is costing Sh3,500 in most shops in the North Rift region.

Government-subsidised fertiliser goes for Sh1,800 per bag but is missing from the market.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said senior department officials are to hold a crisis meeting to strategise on the purchase of the farm inputs.

“We are faced with challenges in the purchase of fertiliser and we shall be holding a meeting in Nairobi to explore the best method to procure the fertiliser within the law. We will be ensuring that farmers get top-dressing fertiliser (CAN) in good time,” disclosed the CS.

The Treasury released an additional Sh2 billion last week to the Ministry of Agriculture to procure the fertiliser.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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